Based on my experience with a few of these characters, I’ve discovered a few things:
- Duck tape doesn’t work as well as we’ve been told. Maybe you haven’t spent enough time with the character in order for them to feel comfortable opening up to you. If they’re not comfortable with you in the first place, they most certainly aren’t going to talk when you’re threatening them. You have to give them the freedom to get to you know you while you’re getting to know them at the same time. Patience is a virtue here – though not my greatest attribute I can promise you!
- You’ve got to dig to find the core. Remember those models in grade school of the earth? The ones with the layers of the earth? You’re characters have those same layers. You’ve got to drill a tiny hole in your character’s heart and mind and slowly work your way down into their core. This means you gotta start from the beginning…their beginning. Take a trip with them down memory lane via a character interview and let them slowly start to tell you about their humble beginnings. Slowly, but surely, they will begin to open up.
- Road trip buddies and pit stops are required. We each have a friend (or friends) that have a huge influence on our lives, thus a huge influence on our own personal character arc. Don’t just plop your character onto the page and not give him a driving buddy (even the villains have buds, right?). Even if the character is starting to open up to you, they’re going to open up even more with a trusty companion at their side and a place for the two of them to stop, kick back, and rest before moving forward in their journey. At that point, you should take a back seat and watch the layers begin to peel away (with a bag of popcorn of course).
- Maps, directions and ETAs/mileage are suggestions. Just because you have the story plotted out on paper or in your head, doesn’t mean the characters are going to take the exact streets you’ve mapped out. Detours and road blocks are going to happen. A character can sometimes start to shut down on you when these happen. So what do you do when you’re faced with that bright orange “Road Closed” sign? You back up and find another route (no – you don’t click the ‘alternate route’ button on your GPS). Part of their character arc is finding their voice – not yours – and looking for another way to solve the conflict so they can get into the safe zone as soon as possible. It’s super surprising and amazing when it happens which is why detours should always be welcomed with open arms – in writing, not on the street. Grrr….
What about you? Have you comes across an introverted character in the past that had a hard time opening up to you? What did you do to get them to open up and show their core?